The Malaysian Association of Theme Park & Family Attractions (MATFA) claims that although they support the measures taken by the Government to curb the pandemic, they require a clear milestone, agile SOPs, and a proper plan to cope with the losses adding up each day. In doing so, they would be able to better work around it and plan accordingly to minimize the damage.
The tourism sector being the third biggest contributor to Malaysia’s GDP, contributing about 13.1% to 14.2%, has seen losses about RM100bil since the start of the pandemic and is in a really tight spot during the full MCO. MATFA fears the worst for the tourism industry and its 3.6mil employees, considering that operations will only be allowed in October 2021 at the earliest.
“Many are already shuttering their businesses – we are afraid permanently. There can’t be a comeback for many of these business owners whose cash reserves, investments and everything the business stood for have evaporated in a long haul of over 16 months,” MATFA stated in a media release.
Hence, they appeal to the Government to allow core businesses in the tourism industry such as theme parks, attractions, playlands, wellness spas, cinemas, and family entertainment centers to operate along with shopping malls, resorts, and hotels in Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan.
Alternatively, should the Government continue to keep the tourism sector on the negative list, MATFA proposes that the Government draw up a recovery plan for the tourism sector targeting financial support, statutory exemptions, as well as proactive and inclusive actions on the SOPs. MATFA highlights that the RM1 Billion PENJANA for the tourism sector was under utilized and it remains a low impact initiative, given that only 327 applications approved out of 666, bring the total funding provided to only RM65.1mil. Thus, they seek a straightforward program managed and distributed under a single agency, the Ministry of Tourism Arts & Culture (MOTAC).
Despite grants and allocations from the Government during the pandemic, such as Tourism, Arts and Culture Support Grant (GSPSB), PEMERKASA package, PENJANA Tourism Financing, etc., industry players are still finding it hard to stay afloat given the elongated lockdown periods that restrict travelling. The GSPSB dedicated RM30mil, in which events and programs held within the country were applicable for grants for up to RM500,000 depending on their total actual expenditure; PEMERKASA allocated a total of RM135mil, which benefited more than 5,000 tour agencies, with a RM3,000 one-off special assistance; The RM1bil PENJANA Tourism financing on the other hand provided microenterprises and SMEs with financing up to RM75,000 and RM300,000 respectively, with a financing rate of up to 3.5% per annum for a financing tenure of up to 7 years; it becomes easier to grasp the depth of seriousness in these issues as we see tourism industry players suffering above all this. Even the successful 5-star hotel, Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur, was forced to shut down.
STATUTORY AND UTILITIES
- Freeze all statutory needs – until 31st Dec 2021
- There are tourism specific related statutory issues like annual license renewals and also routine vehicle inspections for the commercial tourist buses.
- Includes but not limited to EPF, SOCSO, EIS, SST, Quit Rent, Assessment, SSM submissions, LHDN installments, HRD, Foreign Worker Levy payments etc.
PROACTIVE AND INCLUSIVE ON THE SOPS
- Let’s work on the SOP now itself and address any punitive measures that are to be outlined.
- Let the private sector work alongside agencies/ministers and MKN to make this happen.
- Maximize the potential of MySejahtera and Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) for proactive measures. HIDE needs to be more transparent with the Rakyat knowing what parameters are being measured. It cannot be punitive, but rather incentivized to use.
- Let MOTAC be the anchoring ministry for these initiatives.
“Otherwise, if we have to keep costs at the pre-pandemic level, not retrench workers and yet match with zero revenue – that is bad business and bad for business.
“We as an industry that has yet to come out of the woods are still hopeful and it stems from the fact that YAB Prime Minister acknowledged that the tourism industry is the hardest hit. Hopefully, the government will reciprocate in the same spirit and provide more forthcoming funding to help the tourism industry,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dato’ Richard CK Koh.